Saturday, May 17, 2008

Like a bruise on a beautiful body

By Michael J.W. Stickings

I'm taking it easy this weekend, a long one for us in Canada -- thank you, Queen Victoria.

I'll have some political posts up soon, but here's another musical interlude: KT Tunstall's "Funnyman," an acoustic version for Channel 4 in the U.K.

Don't know who KT is?

She's a really good Scottish singer-songwriter -- see her website here and her Wikipedia entry here -- and "Funnyman," off her 2007 album Drastic Fantastic, is one of her best.

Turn it up and enjoy. (Those are her background singers, by the way. Seriously.)


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Internal threats?

By Carol Gee

"Internal threats," according to common usage in this age of Bush administration fear mongering, invokes the possibility of acts that might do harm to us or those we love. Today's post discusses news about two court rulings that should be heartening to civil libertarians because the decisions say to the government, in effect, "Just because you label something as a threat does not necessarily make it so." What both court decisions make clear is that in these cases the rights of those targeted in government actions trump the false threat claims of the government. But fearful people in government probably will not give up without more threats and accusations aimed at raising the anxiety level of the general public. We begin with the problem of homophobic fears and discrimination based on sexual preference.

Threats of passing a Constitutional amendment banning gay marriage have arisen as a result of the California Supreme Court's ruling yesterday. Salon's Glenn Greenwald provides an excellent analysis, as well as the political implications of this narrowly drawn opinion of mostly Republican appointed justices, concluding, to quote:

It's self-evident that there's no way rationally to assess whether the Court acted correctly if one doesn't bother to find out anything about the California State Constitution and the precedent interpreting and applying it. Anyone who seeks to opine about the propriety of the court's ruling without doing that basic work is simply expressing an opinion about whether they like the outcome as a policy matter, i.e., is being guided by the defining attribute of so-called "judicial activism" (ignoring relevant law in favor of outcome preferences).

What is threatening about legalizing gay marriage? For the life of me, I have never been able to understand the fears. So I will quote Bluebloggin's insightful thoughts on the matter,

First a word from the out of touch: [regarding Republican views] As usual McCain is wrong, the Judges were asked to review a Constitutional violation, which is their job. As for John Cornyn he’ll probable be hitting the dusty trail after the November elections.

Now, for the evolved: California’s Supreme Court declared gay couples in the nation’s biggest state can marry - a monumental but perhaps short-lived victory for the gay rights movement Thursday that was greeted with tears, hugs, kisses and at least one instant proposal of matrimony.

Same-sex couples could tie the knot in as little as a month. But the window could close soon after - religious and social conservatives are pressing to put a constitutional amendment on the ballot in November that would undo the Supreme Court ruling and ban gay marriage.

FBI use of, or perhaps threats of, issuing National Security Letters (NSLs) has been the subject of a scathing FBI Inspector General's report of abuse of the power of FBI NSLs. It has been extremely difficult for those in receipt of such letters to get protection or redress through the courts. But is has happened, and some in the Senate want to find our more about the practice. Thus "Senators Ask FBI to Explain Flawed 'National Security Letter' to Internet Archive," headlines this very encouraging story by Ryan Singel at Wired - Threat Level. To quote:

A bipartisan group of U.S. senators is asking FBI head Robert Mueller to explain why the feds sought records from the Internet Archive, a digital library, using a controversial administrative subpoena known as a National Security Letter, which is intended for a communications service providers.

The Internet Archive, a digital library of the web and media, beat the November 26 NSL with the help of attorneys at the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the American Civil Liberties Union. In April, the FBI agreed to withdraw the request for records on a Internet Archive user and lift the gag order that typically attaches to such requests.

The six senators sent Mueller a letter Thursday, asking him to explain what happened and to find out if the FBI reported the incident to an oversight board as a possible violation of federal law.

The Internet Archive's case is only the third known legal challenge to NSLs, despite the fact that the the FBI issues tens of thousands a year -- more than 100,000 such letters were issued in 2004 and 2005 combined.

Despite the good news covered up to this point in my post, we must remain vigilant against government charges of internal threats. When my friend "betmo" labels something "FYI," I have learned to pay attention. Her short post Wednesday highlighted a couple of different kinds of "internal threats" by the government against seemingly justified targets, all suspected wrong-doers in federal custody or "enemy" computers. The proposals involve 1) taking DNA samples from everyone incarcerated in the federal legal system, and 2) the Air Force being allowed to possess hacker tools that would give them potential access to every kind of computer in the world. The problem is that these government actions, if allowed to go forward, could diminish the core Bill of Rights civil liberties of all of us. Stay tuned for the next examples. We will inevitable find them as long as this fearful and fear mongering administration is in power.

(Cross-posted at South by Southwest.)

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Friday, May 16, 2008

Electile dysfunction for the mathematically impaired

By Greg Prince

Barack Obama will be the nominee. I said as much two months ago, and nothing has changed since that time. That’s reality. And it’s getting tiring having to endure the nonsense coming from the Hillary partisans.

First off is the meme that Obama isn’t electable, that he can’t put her away. Frankly, that isn’t a compelling argument coming from the candidate who lost. More to the point, primary results have very limited application to the general election. Hillary’s margin of victory in California or Obama’s in Illinois don’t tell us much about their national appeal when running against, gasp, a Republican. Moreover, those states are going to fall into the Democratic column no matter who the nominee is. Either Obama or Hillary would beat McCain this fall. That said, Hillary is more polarizing and provides an easier target for the opposition. Obama has more crossover appeal.

Next is the argument that Obama can’t appeal to “white” voters or “blue collar” voters. Um, sorry folks, but that’s just bullshit. Yes, Obama underperforms in Appalachia. Most of those states lean red, some are in play. They will be no less in play for Obama against McCain than they would be for Hillary. Look it up, and see how Kerry, Gore, Clinton, etc. did in the region. A very good piece looking at the Appalachian region and comparing regional to national support for Hillary vs. Obama can be found here (read the link)..

Some people are just unhinged, looking beyond the mark at the risk of November.

At Talk Left we see Obama being accused of throwing the '60s generation under the bus, prompting John Cole to observe:

I am really trying to be nice to Hillary supporters, because I know how down they feel and I really don’t want to pile on during a tough couple of weeks, but one of the saddest things to happen this primary is to watch Jeralyn Merritt slowly lose her damned mind. Today, Obama spoke about Vietnam veterans in Charleston:

One of the saddest episodes in our history was the degree to which returning vets from Vietnam were shunned, demonized and neglected by some because they served in an unpopular war. Too many of those who opposed the war in Vietnam chose to blame not only the leaders who ordered the mission, but the young men who simply answered their country’s call. Four decades later, the sting of that injustice is a wound that has never fully healed, and one that should never be repeated.

Most of us would agree with that sentiment, and I would argue that even if it was just one person mistreating vets, that is too many.

The Emily’s list kerfuffle as well is an embarrassment not only to the Democratic party and to themselves, but to the state of modern feminism. Obsidian Wings summarized it well:

I honestly do not see how someone like Ellen Malcolm, who founded Emily’s List, is still its President, and knows how politics works, could have written that “the game is too close to call” in good faith. It is not too close to call. Barring catastrophe, or a Rapture in which Obama is called to be with his maker while Hillary Clinton is left behind, Obama will win the race...

I supported Emily’s List for sixteen years. (Maybe seventeen: I can’t recall whether I signed up in 1991 or 1992.) Over the years, I have sent their candidates thousands of dollars. That ended this campaign season, when it became clear to me that the leaders of Emily’s List, and Ellen Malcolm in particular, had lost their intellectual integrity. This column is a perfect illustration of why I reached that conclusion. Luckily, Emily’s List isn’t so necessary anymore. It’s a lot easier to find out about great progressive women candidates nationwide, and to give money to them. And there are a lot of other good political organizations whose presidents don’t find it necessary either to lie to me or to invoke sexism, which I take very seriously, in a purely cynical fashion.

Hillary will drop out because she lost the race, not because she is a woman.


There are other factors as well. John Aravosis considers the effect down-ticket:

One congressional candidate told us that if Hillary is the nominee, it’s a guaranteed 5 point hit they take right from the start (meaning, they start the race 5-points down in the polls). Why? Because too many people hate Hillary. That’s why her negatives are higher than her positives. She will bring out voters who might not have voted otherwise. And the voters she will bring out will be rabid conservatives who will vote against Democrats across the board.

Another congressional candidate told us that it’s even worse than that. Not only will the candidate have to publicly run AGAINST Hillary, should she get the nomination, but she’s already damaging their campaign. First off, fundraising. The money isn’t coming in, first because everyone is focused on the Hillary-Obama race, and not paying attention to congressional races. Another problem, people are pissed off, on all sides. They’re not in the mood to give. And finally, some major donors don’t want to give to any second-tier campaigns (meaning, campaigns that have less of a chance, but still have a chance, of winning) until they see whether Hillary or Obama get the nomination. Why? Because if Hillary gets the nomination, our candidates in red states, or states that are red/blue, will get slaughtered, and thus there’s no reason to fund them.

While I’m sure he’s quoting accurately, he overstates the case. Brand “GOP” is, to borrow the phrase, polling lower than syphilis. The GOP knows it and is freaking out. We shouldn’t become complacent, but the ball is in our court. It’s true that Hillary would be more of a challenge down ticket - simply because she’s polarizing and people don’t trust her. This isn’t an overriding consideration (though it tells us something about supposed electability). It deserves some consideration as we seek to increase our majorities in Congress. Reaching that magic "60" in the senate would merit dancing in the streets.


Meanwhile, who do we think is going to be persuaded by Hillary’s Budweiser/NRA-Lite persona? It’s not compelling against McCain, it’s not authentic, and it’s not fooling anyone. Even Townhall observes:

Senator Clinton no more deserves gun-owner votes than Lord Voldemort deserves the Muggle vote. In the Senate, she has voted in favoring of abusive lawsuits against law-abiding gun manufacturers, for banning cosmetically incorrect guns which are falsely labeled “assault weapons,” and for allowing federal funds to be used to confiscate guns from law-abiding citizens after a natural disaster—as was done following Hurricane Katrina.

Her lone pro-Second Amendment vote was for a national bill allowing retired police officers, under stringent licensing conditions, to carry concealed handguns in all fifty states.

Truth be told, I don’t think Hillary should drop out - yet. The primary schedule is what it is, and we know Obama can’t sweep the states even though he cannot be denied the nomination. In terms of momentum, we are better off having two candidates split primaries than having Obama come in second while running unopposed. That too is reality. But the slash and burn, the politics of personal destruction MUST stop.

We don’t need to be helping the Republican’ts tear down our candidate. Moreover, we don’t want to contribute to the demoralizing effect on our own party. Wil Wheaton captures the feelings of many:

I’m sure it will come as no surprise that over the last 10 weeks or so, I’ve gone from respecting to feeling sorry for to actively despising Hillary Clinton.

It’s over. She knows it’s over. It’s been over for almost three months, but she’s been moving the goalposts and cynically and cravenly pandering to voters in a way that’s not only insulting, but is embarrassing. John Cole frequently says that he can’t believe he ever supported Bush, and I can now join him in saying that I can’t believe I ever supported, defended and believed in the Clintons.

The thing about all of this is that, with a Clinton victory in the primary about as likely as jumping off the roof of your house and landing on the moon, it’s become clear that this whole thing isn’t about Democrats or beating McCain (who is inexplicably running for Bush’s third term) or saving our country from the catastrophic failure of the Bush years. No, it’s all about her. It’s about her ego. It’s about refusing to admit that she did her best, but voters (except those encouraged by Rush Limbaugh to cross party lines and fuck with our primary) have pretty clearly said “No thanks. You’re a good senator, but we want something different now.”



Eye on the prize, folks. Don’t forget the big picture. I see letters to the editor like this one in my local paper by Caroline Marx:

I am one of those 50-plus conservative Democratic career women who is an ardent Hillary contributor. I am not working class, black or uneducated. Yes, the odds are against Clinton now, but she is the one who can beat John McCain. Barack Obama will get creamed against McCain — Dukakis revisited.

My vote will go to McCain if Obama is our nominee. McCain is already salivating, using Clinton’s playbook. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, please change your superdelegate vote. Hillary Clinton is electable; Barack Obama is not.

I see comments in blogs like this:

It’s a long shot, to be sure, but I’m always reminded of Al Gore in 2000 and how angry all of us got at him for not fighting it until the bitter end, caving in simply because it was “the right thing to do.”

And it really frustrates me. Focus people! Ms. Marx, aside from being woefully misinformed about Obama’s general electibility, apparently believes a third Bush term would be better for a woman’s right to choose than an Obama administration. And by so doing she makes a profound error. There are some areas in which I prefer Hillary’s policy to Obama’s (the converse is also true), but first and foremost is the matter of controlling judicial nominations. Justice Stevens still has his health, but will be in his 90s by 2012. Ginsberg isn’t young either. Four of the five most political minded justices in history are presently sitting on the court. We simply cannot afford another GOP nomination.


As for Carl’s piece, I appreciate his frustration. But setting aside for a moment the issues with Florida (a big one being Gore got fewer votes), he falls into the trap of confusing primary vs. general elections. The objective is to find a nominee, not to beat the hell out of each other and waste millions of dollars that might be better used supporting other progressive candidates and working toward a November victory. Michigan and Florida, in terms of their illegal January primaries, are simply non starters. Obama is visiting now because it makes sense to do so, to begin moving forward as the nominee.

It used to be Clinton Derangement Syndrome applied to the wingnuts, but there’s a new variety afflicting those who don’t know when to let go.

The time is far spent, there is little remaining… The primary process has been a good experienceand millions of new voters have gotten registered, engaged, and are excited about the process and the election. That’s a good thing. Now is the time to build thereupon with an eye toward November.

Hillary was the early favorite and expected a coronation. That didn’t happen. While she won’t be too old to run again in 2016, the conventional wisdom is “this” is her moment. But it is not a time to get bogged down in internecine warfare. I pray the Clintons recognize this.

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Middle East "Reality" Bites

By Carol Gee

One of the greatest losses to our national psyche during the past two Bush terms of office as our current president (OCP) has been his credibility. We need to worry about his mind even more these days. He is on a trip to the Middle East, and his airplane must have had trouble with pressurization for an extended period over the Atlantic, because what OCP is saying indicates that he is out of touch with reality. His flight of fantasy begins with this headline:"Bush envisions Middle East free of oppression." This 5/15/08 story from the National Examiner ushered in a lengthy narrative that is jarring in what it says. Jennifer Loven's AP article reveals a wide-eyed surreal optimism from OCP about what will happen in the future to the various countries of the region. Here is a sample of the unhinged man's rhetoric:

  • [Israel's] 120th birthday would find it alongside a Palestinian state and in an all-democratic neighborhood free of today's oppression, restrictions on freedom and extremist Muslim movements.

  • Bush limited his mention of Palestinians to just one sentence. "The Palestinian people will have the homeland they have long dreamed of and deserved, a democratic state that is governed by law, and respects human rights, and rejects terror," he said.

  • "From Cairo and Riyadh to Baghdad and Beirut, people will live in free and independent societies, where a desire for peace is reinforced by ties of diplomacy, tourism and trade," he said. "Iran and Syria will be peaceful nations, where today's oppression is a distant memory and people are free to speak their minds and develop their talents. And al-Qaida, Hezbollah and Hamas will be defeated, as Muslims across the region recognize the emptiness of the terrorists' vision and the injustice of their cause."

In addition to those bizarre statements, OCP took an opportunity to behave in an even more irrational way by intentionally "poisoning the water" for Democrats in the Middle East, causing an absolute firestorm of disapproval from a variety of quarters, including Senator Clinton. And what is worse, the administration denies doing it. The only thing that makes it at all tolerable is that many national leaders now know OCP for what he is-- without credibility. To quote from the same story:

Without naming names, Bush criticized those who "believe we should negotiate with the terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along." He called the approach "the false comfort of appeasement," and one that has been discredited by history.

The strong words came as the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination, Sen. Barack Obama, has expressed a willingness to meet with the leaders of U.S. adversaries, including Iran and Syria. However, White House press secretary Dana Perino flatly rejected the idea that the Knesset remark was aimed in any way at Obama, and Johndroe said Bush was referring to "a wide range of people who have talked to or suggested we talk to Hamas, Hezbollah or their state sponsors." Former President Carter recently held talks with Hamas leaders.

McCain = Bush -- If you think Senator John McCain would be an improvement, guess again. It is this kind of news that makes it abundantly clear that a McCain presidency would be equivalent to a Bush third term. For example, McCain agreed with OCP's inflammatory remarks before the Israeli parliament. Steve Benen, at The Carpetbagger Report today took the same approach to examining the rhetoric of Senator John McCain regarding Iraq, as in my above remarks about OCP. To quote Benen's exerpted quotes (his links):

This morning, in a similar vein, McCain told an Ohio audience about his vision of Iraq after his first term in the White House.

“By January 2013, America has welcomed home most of the servicemen and women who have sacrificed terribly so that America might be secure in her freedom. The Iraq War has been won. Iraq is a functioning democracy, although still suffering from the lingering effects of decades of tyranny and centuries of sectarian tension. Violence still occurs, but it is spasmodic and much reduced.

“Civil war has been prevented; militias disbanded; the Iraqi Security Force is professional and competent; al Qaeda in Iraq has been defeated; and the Government of Iraq is capable of imposing its authority in every province of Iraq and defending the integrity of its borders. The United States maintains a military presence there, but a much smaller one, and it does not play a direct combat role.”

. . . What’s more, Ilan Goldenberg noted that McCain has hoped for success in Iraq before, but sweet, innocent wishes never seem to come true.

“And I believe that the success will be fairly easy” and “There’s no doubt in my mind that… we will be welcomed as liberators.” [CNN, Larry King Live, 9/24/02. MSNBC, Hardball, 3/24/03]

“I think we could go in with much smaller numbers than we had to do in the past… I don’t believe it’s going to be nearly the size and scope that it was in 1991.” [Face the Nation, 9/15/02]

“There’s not a history of clashes that are violent between Sunnis and Shias. So I think they can probably get along.” [MSNBC Hardball, 4/23/03]

McCain was asked, “at what point will America be able to say the war was won?” He responded, “…it’s clear that the end is, is, is very much in sight.” [ABC, “Good Morning America,” 4/9/03]

Exactly one year before violence in Iraq peaked: “Overall, I think a year from now, we will have made a fair amount of progress if we stay the course.” [The Hill, 12/8/05]

Other Republicans taking leave of their senses regarding the Middle East -- "Ollie North Believes We Are Fighting A Religious War In The Middle East," is the post title from Cliff Schecter at Firedoglake. To quote North regarding the soldiers in battle:

The pictures of these youngsters gathering in prayer, literally kneeling and praying. They are not pictures getting ready for a football game. They know they may not come back and they’re bold about it. My colleagues in the mainstream media never show that.

Do not mistake the following for cynicism -- Reality when it comes to the Middle Ease cannot be stated in vague generalities hinting at an idealized picture. From the beginning of this century, OCP, his neocon minders, and other end-timer types, have had an irrational view of the region. In doing so, they have done the people victimized by it a terrible disservice. Dismissing any culture but ones redone in the image of an idealized United States, assuming it will take Christians to save Muslims from themselves, touting a"democracy" modeled after one that we don't even like much right now, OCP and his types have taken the Middle East region down a dangerous path. Do not be fooled by so-called "Maverick McCain." Any difference from OCP would not hold up in a crisis. He would revert to unrealistic instinctual behavior.

(Cross-posted at South by Southwest.)

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Bush, the Nazis, and the making of a family fortune

By Michael J.W. Stickings

It's simply ridiculous for Bush to compare Obama and the Democrats to the appeasers of Nazism. And, given the history of the Bush Family, it's also hilarious, in a really ugly sort of way. The Guardian reports (read it all, but here's the gist of it):

George Bush's grandfather, the late US senator Prescott Bush, was a director and shareholder of companies that profited from their involvement with the financial backers of Nazi Germany. The Guardian has obtained confirmation from newly discovered files in the US National Archives that a firm of which Prescott Bush was a director was involved with the financial architects of Nazism.

His business dealings, which continued until his company's assets were seized in 1942 under the Trading with the Enemy Act, has led more than 60 years later to a civil action for damages being brought in Germany against the Bush family by two former slave labourers at Auschwitz and to a hum of pre-election controversy.

The evidence has also prompted one former US Nazi war crimes prosecutor to argue that the late senator's action should have been grounds for prosecution for giving aid and comfort to the enemy.

The debate over Prescott Bush's behaviour has been bubbling under the surface for some time. There has been a steady internet chatter about the "Bush/Nazi" connection, much of it inaccurate and unfair. But the new documents, many of which were only declassified last year, show that even after America had entered the war and when there was already significant information about the Nazis' plans and policies, he worked for and profited from companies closely involved with the very German businesses that financed Hitler's rise to power. It has also been suggested that the money he made from these dealings helped to establish the Bush family fortune and set up its political dynasty.

So: Prescott Bush profited off the Nazis. He helped them and they helped him. One of his sons become president, as did one of his grandsons, each one benefitting from the fortune he made.

If even talking to one's enemies constitutes "appeasement," what exactly is all this?

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It's time to bring down Rollo Tomasi

By J. Thomas Duffy

Well, as you know, I was stuck in Computer Hell for a good chunk of the day, and the whole time, this doozy of a story was dancing in my head.

Fans of the most-excellent movie, "L.A. Confidential", you know, very well, who Rollo Tomasi is.

For those not in-the-know, he was a fictional person, created by Guy Pearce's character, Lt. Edmund Exley, to both soothe his soul, and provide him the gritty motivation for his job.

From Wikipedia;
Rollo Tomasi... Rollo was a purse snatcher. My father ran into him off duty. And he shot my father six times and got away clean. No one even knew who he was. I just made the name up to give him some personality... Rollo Tomasi's the reason I became a cop. I wanted to catch the guys who thought they could get away with it. It was supposed to be about justice. Then somewhere along the way I lost sight of that

Our Court-Appointed-President (h/t Barry Crimmins) has done mountains more than stealing a purse, and he's put enough bullets in the Constitution to inspire an army of policemen.

But what he did today, using the ceremonious occasion of Israel's 60th Independence Anniversary, to pull out his head-up-his-ass, Rovian, fearmongering, smearing politics, we know we have seen just the maggot-infested depths he, The Commander Guy, is eager to sink to.

Ironically, Keith Olbermann slapped him silly last evening, golf-sacrificing interview, with Mike Allen (who is surely slated to be inducted - unanimously - into the Softball Hall of Fame), for it was nearly two-years ago (30 August 2006) Olbermann issued his first Special Comment, slapping down Rumsfeld and Cheney, for the same Nazi Appeaser bullshit.

So there was the man that uses "The Google", standing in the Israeli Knesset,
Some seem to believe we should negotiate with terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along. We have heard this foolish delusion before. As Nazi tanks crossed into Poland in 1939, an American senator declared: "Lord, if only I could have talked to Hitler, all of this might have been avoided." We have an obligation to call this what it is – the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history.

This is nothing less than specious of "Golf-less Compassionate" to pull a stunt like this.

And a double pox on the Bush Grindhouse cronies, who claim he wasn't speaking, directing his remarks at Barack Obama, not to mention nearly 70% of the nation.

We'll deal with Stumblin' Bumblin John McCain in the next day or, two, who naturally, heartily backed the comments, and we have already today, with a Garlictorial, slapped down his Sgt. Garcia, Senator Joe Lieberman (I-R, CT), who, as Steve Benen noted, predictably endorsed the Court Appointed President slimy remarks.

And, when he returns back to the Grindhouse, will he dismiss, perhaps arrest, his his Secretary of Defense and his office wife, the Secretary of State, who both have advocated talking to Iran?


Will Bunch, on his Attytood, beat me to the punch, in his great post today, on calling for what I will next.
President Bush went on foreign soil today, and committed what I consider an act of political treason: Comparing the candidate of the U.S. opposition party to appeasers of Nazi Germany -- in the very nation that was carved out from the horrific calamity of the Holocaust. Bush's bizarre and beyond-appropriate detour into American presidential politics took place in the middle of what should have been an occasion for joy: A speech to Israeli's Knesset to honor that nation's 60th birthday.

As a believer in free speech, I think Bush has a right to say what he wants, but as a President of the United States who swore to uphold the Constitution, his freedom also carries an awesome and solemn responsibility, and what this president said today is a serious breach of that high moral standard.

Today, it's a whole new ballgame. I believe this treacherous statement by a U.S. president in Israel is a signal to the Democrats in the House in Washington, that it's time to play its Constitutional role in ending this trauma, before even greater acts against the interest of America are wrongly committed in our name.

This is the price we are paying, for Nancy Pelosi, and the rest of the Congress, for not pulling out "The Table", and beginning Impeachment proceedings against Bush and Cheney, following the 2006 Mid-Term elections.

Well, there's still time, and if the Republicans are serious about giving us "The Change We Deserve", not to mention saving their own skins, they can win back a few points (after all, they have been enablers in this trampling of our country).

It will make for great summer television, not to mention, perhaps, effectively muzzling the faux Commander-in-Chief, keeping him from injecting his bile into the campaign.

What to impeach him on?

Take your pick ...

The Family Closet

Oh, yes, there was another delicious irony of the Court Appointed President's smears today.

We need to come up with a prize ... Maybe a bottle of champagne ... A week-end getaway ... Something worthwhile, for the first reporter, or other accredited media person (sorry Jeff Gannon), who asks Dana Perino, at the next White House Press Briefing, if the comments he made, was he speaking from personal, family history, when he cited the Nazi Appeasement?

Larisa Alexandrovna has a kick-ass post, chockfull of the dirty laundry in the Bush Family closet, namely the Court-Appointed President's Grandfather, Prescott Bush, the "All American Nazi" and the "All American Traitor"

Be sure to read Larisa's "All the President's Nazis (real and imagined): An Open Letter to Bush"

Blue Girl, from Red State-Blue Girl, also has a post on this;
We have an obligation to call this what it is – the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history,” he said - apparently with a straight face - completely forgetting that exercising the Trading With the Enemy Act was even necessary because his grandfather was Hitler's banker, and continued to do business with him for eleven months after Germany declared war on his country! The money Prescott made collaborating with Nazis was used to bankroll the Bush families Texas oil ventures, and the rest, as they say, is history. Some of us, like my esteemed co-blogger, actually opened the book when we took the classes, so we know this stuff that evades Der Chimpenfuhrer.

More on Rollo Tomasi;
However, at the end he knows he must arrest Dudley but also knows Dudley is highly respected and will once again get away with it. Exley shoots him in the back, at last gaining the personal satisfaction of 'catching Rollo Tomasi'.

We still have the opportunity - and some of us believe it is the Congress's duty - to not let this real-life Rollo Tomasi, this foolish idiot, this warmongering, dishonest, lying, torture-promoting cretin get away with it.

It will bring personal satisfaction to millions-of-millions of people, all around the world.

Bonus Bush Bashing

Go out to Memeorandum for a bevy of posts on this story (and use the Archives Feature, depending on when you go there, where you can pull up articles, based by the hour)

Cliff Schecter: Joe Lieberman Joins The George W. Bush Smear Party

Marc Ambinder: Politics: Did The White House Step On McCain's Speech?

John Kerry: President Bush's Despicable Attack on Barack Obama

Mahablog: Channeling Neville Chamberlain

Brian Katulis - Wonk Room: Bush Tries To Distract From The Conservative Record On Terrorism

Think Progress: Lawmakers Respond To Bush: ‘Bullsh*t’ And ‘Malarkey’ That Is ‘Beneath The Dignity’ Of The Oval Office

John Amato - Crooks and Liars: Matthews rips right wing Talkie Kevin James because he doesn’t know who Neville Chamberlain is

Christopher Orr: The Republican Obama *Wants* to Run Against

Mark D.- Balloon Juice: Barack Obama: Kinda Like a Nazi Appeaser

(Cross Posted at The Garlic)

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Hillary defends Obama in response to Bush

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Ah, so predictable. With Bush in Israel, the Republican Smear Machine was in full swing. As both Capt. Fogg and Carl noted yesterday, the president took a swipe at Obama and the Democrats, and it went like this:

-- Some people want to negotiate with the terrorists.
-- Back in the '30s, appeasers wanted to negotiate with Hitler.
-- Therefore, the people who want to negotiate with the terrorists are like the appeasers who wanted to negotiate with Hitler.
-- Those people are Obama and the Democrats.

No, Bush didn't mention Obama by name, but the message was clear: Obama is an appeaser.

Now, I won't bother to take the time here to rip apart Bush's speech. Capt. Fogg, Carl, and others (like Kevin Drum, Chris Orr, and Barbara O'Brien) have done that already, and done it well. Diplomacy, including talking to one's enemies, is anything but appeasement, which is entirely different, but, in Bush's cowboy-with-high-tech-weapons world, one bombs first and thinks it over later, if one thinks at all. The world may be complex, and may require nuanced engagement, but, for Bush, it is all simple: there good and evil and nothing either between or beyond.

Anyway, it was "a false political attack," as Obama put it in response, if far too mildly, but, on this, I think Hillary's response was even more effective:

President Bush’s comparison of any Democrat to Nazi appeasers is both offensive and outrageous on the face of it, especially in light of his failures in foreign policy. This is the kind of statement that has no place in any presidential address and certainly to use an important moment like the 60th anniversary celebration of Israel to make a political point seems terribly misplaced. Unfortunately, this is what we’ve come to expect from President Bush.

Yes, that's Hillary defending Obama, and doing it well. I hope there's more of that when she's out campaigning for him for the general election, whether she's his running mate or not.

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California Supreme Court issues historic ruling on same-sex marriage

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Fantastic news from California. Here's the L.A. Times (see also the S.F. Chronicle):

The California Supreme Court struck down the state's ban on same-sex marriage Thursday in a broadly worded decision that would invalidate virtually any law that discriminates on the basis of sexual orientation.

The 4-3 ruling declared that the state Constitution protects a fundamental "right to marry" that extends equally to same-sex couples. It tossed a highly emotional issue into the election year while opening the way for tens of thousands of gay people to wed in California, starting as early as mid-June.

I have long been a proponent of the legalization of same-sex marriage and have celebrated recent moves here in Canada and elsewhere to that end. And now, in California, the people, the state's highest court, and even the governor are on board.

There is still much to be done in the U.S., of course -- and the bigoted opposition, much of it on the christianist right, is both organized and powerful -- but there is no doubt that this decision is a major victory for the forces of justice.

Make sure to read Glenn Greenwald on this: "Critically, the Court emphasized at the outset that its ruling had nothing to do with the political views of the judges with regard to gay marriage, but rather, was based solely on its legal analysis of past precedent interpreting the relevant provisions of the state Constitution." Glenn anticipates opposition to the ruling, and refutes it soundly.

And Andrew Sullivan: "[O]n the deeper question, the court is unequivocal in arguing that our modern understanding of sexual orientation -- that it is an orientation, not a choice, an identity and not an act -- makes the equal protection of gay families a core value."

And Melissa McEwan: "[B]ecause California already offers domestic partnership which afford same-sex couples the same legal rights as opposite-sex married couples, it doesn't leave opponents of this decision much wiggle-room: If domestic partnerships already guaranteeing the same legal rights are not good enough, there's not a hell of a lot of space to provide yet another alternative to fully. equal. marriage."

And Digby: "It's fitting that in an election year where we are dealing head on with all these issues of race and sex that we're going to have a showdown on gay marriage in the most populous state in the union. The chances have never been greater to defeat the forces of bigotry and discrimination. It's a risk, but there will probably never be a better time to take it. Bring it on."

(Find more reaction at Memeorandum.)

And just to be clear, Obama supports the ruling, as does Hillary, and McCain doesn't. (Although I wish Obama were a supporter of marriage and not just equal civil unions for gay and lesbian couples. Like Pam and Melissa, I think they're wrong to fall back on states' rights and "marriage equality." Couldn't they -- shouldn't they -- be more excited about this historic ruling?) Ben Smith has their statements here.

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God's aliens

By Michael J.W. Stickings

It's our (belated) Headline of the Day:

Oh, really? Well, thanks for that. Do go on:

The Pope's chief astronomer says that life on Mars cannot be ruled out.

Writing in the Vatican newspaper, the astronomer, Father Gabriel Funes, said intelligent beings created by God could exist in outer space.

Father Funes, director of the Vatican Observatory near Rome, is a respected scientist who collaborates with
universities around the world.

The search for forms of extraterrestrial life, he says, does not contradict belief in God.

Oh, and some of those aliens, the story goes, "could even be free from original sin." You know, because they wouldn't have been involved with the tree and the snake and the apple and the rest of the bloody nonsense that is Christianity.

But, look, at least the Vatican isn't anti-science the way, say, American christianists are, what with their whole "faith-based" opposition to reality and all. And I suppose a Vatican astronmer can be "a respected scientist."

And, personally, I do think extra-terrestrial aliens exist, if I may speculate without actual evidence. I just don't think "God" has anything to do with it.

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Thursday, May 15, 2008

A quick note on Obama's apology

By LindaBeth

(update from yesterday's post)

As it turns out, Obama personally apologized to the reporter he called 'sweetie' yesterday a few hours after the encounter. From his voicemail:

"I'm calling to apologize on two fronts. One was you didn't get your question answered and I apologize. [...] Second apology is for using the word 'sweetie.' That's a bad habit of mine. I do it sometimes with all kinds of people. I mean no disrespect and so I am duly chastened on that front. Feel free to call me back. I expect that my press team will be happy to try to make it up to you whenever we are in Detroit next." (emphasis mine)

First, I really appreciate and respect that he admitted to being wrong. Though it's awfully pathetic that I'm actually impressed by this; unfortunately, this is the kind of incident that in our culture would typically elicit the "I'm sorry you're oversensitive and took it the wrong way" kind of apology. But it seems to me that Obama made a genuine apology and owning up to his "bad habit" using a type of language that perpetuate inequality. Unfortunately, though, this isn't the first time this "bad habit" has come up.

Second, I like his swift response. I think he had already apologized by the time I had even read about the incident. Which makes him seem more genuine to me--he knew he was wrong and took care it it in a timely manner. He didn't need to read the public response to his comment to 'realize' it.

Third, I have to say that he doesn't do it with "all kinds of people"...namely, he doesn't do it with grown, professional men. While I appreciate that he is trying to say he didn't mean it personally, it isn't quite accurate to say he says it for anybody. To say "all kinds of people" dismisses the specifically gendered use of the term, which while it may be used as a term of endearment for loved ones, is wholly condescending to use, especially for a professional woman. And as I said above, it's certainly not the first time Obama has used it to refer to women he doesn't know. And as it turns out, this woman never got her interview (insult to injury).

I like Obama. I was truly disappointed to hear him refer to a woman in this way. And I can't ethically loathe the media's sexism against Clinton without pointing out sexism if Obama does it (and especially with how much I blog about language). But I think his apology was genuine, that he understands he did wrong (rather than that it was merely "taken to wrong way"), and that he desires to do right by people. I just wish that he could have also realized that it wasn't a generic "bad habit". And especially with NARAL's recent endorsement, I do hope to see him recognize the need for our culture to take women seriously.

(Cross-posted to Smart Like Me)

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Hungry for leadership again

By Carol Gee

Members of he American public, as well as many abroad, are hungry for good leadership.

After the desperately hoped-for 2006 victories for Democratic majorities in Congress, we have been almost universally disappointed in the leadership shown since then. Presidential campaigns, I believe, are one of the drivers for this hunger for leadership every four years. For many Americans their President is the penultimate leader. We invest a great deal in this person and expect a great deal back. And we want the person of our choice to be worth the investment. (See my *similar previous posts below).

People surfing the Internet are not always sure what good leadership entails, so they might do a Google or Yahoo! search on terms such as "leadership qualities," "best leaders named," or similar phrases. I noticed today that fully one third of the readers of my South by Southwest blog found it as a result of some kind of "leadership" search. We generally think of government leaders but opinion makers provide significant leadership that affects the outcomes of elections. Bloggers are opinion makers, "big" bloggers and "little" bloggers alike.

An analogous hunger for leadership exists in the blogosphere, I think. We invest a great deal in reading the big blogs or our own "favorite" bookmarked or linked blogs, and we expect a great deal in return. I cannot speak for others so I will list those qualities of leadership that I admire in the big blogs to which I regularly turn. The leadership qualities after each name apply to both presidential and opinion-making leaders. Firedoglake's Christy Hardin Smith is very good at connecting with people -- good leaders instinctively know how to connect with their followers. Andrew Sullivan has the ability to see another's side -- good leaders are reasonably capable of listening to an opposing view. On the other hand, some of my favorite very smart bloggers, Glenn Greenwald, for example, are rather skeptical -- leaders I admire are willing to challenge the conventional wisdom. The blog of emptywheel is a really good source of investigative journalism -- good leaders are diligent about gathering the facts. Steve Benen writes a bodaciously fine blog, The Carpetbagger Report, all by himself on a very regular basis -- good leaders have a genuine dedication to a cause. The most widely read bloggers, Maud Newton, for example, exhibit good taste -- leaders do not intentionally offend us.

What makes a "little" or less widely read blogger a good leader with me? I am often influenced by what little bloggers post. The good writer most always does his or her homework -- leaders do the preparation necessary for credibility. Bloggers I admire most "tell it like it is" -- leaders expect us to be able to handle the truth. The best bloggers are multi-talented -- the best leaders often show a number of areas of excellence. My favorite writers exhibit a great deal of authenticity -- leaders with followers that last for the long haul are not "phonies." Some of my favorite bloggers are also activists -- leaders take steps that could bring about change. Good bloggers have the ability to write with passion -- leaders are not afraid of emotion.

*Similar previous posts:

References: The Web Habits of Highly Effective People, (h/t to my favorite "big" literary blogger, Maud Newton).

(Cross-posted at South by Southwest.)

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Perp walk in Rove's future?

By Libby Spencer

Hot off the rumor mill, this is the best news I've heard for a long time. Could be our long awaited Fitzmas present is about to arrive.

Just off the House floor today, the Crypt overheard House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers tell two other people: “We’re closing in on Rove. Someone’s got to kick his ass.”

Asked a few minutes later for a more official explanation, Conyers told us that Rove has a week to appear before his committee. If he doesn’t, said Conyers, “We’ll do what any self-respecting committee would do. We’d hold him in contempt. Either that or go and have him arrested.”

Conyers goes on to say, “We want him for so many things, it’s hard to keep track.”

I've been daydreaming lately about the Democrats ramping up their investigations as a campaign tactic. What better way to define the Republican brand and frame the narrative for November? It looks like my dreams might finally be coming true.

(Cross-posted at The Impolitic.)

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Appease porridge hot, appease porridge cold...

By Carl

Not sure I understand
Bush's point here:

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - U.S. President George W. Bush on Thursday decried his critics' calls for negotiations with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as comparable to the appeasement of Adolf Hitler before World War Two.

Bush's comment in a speech to Israel's parliament appeared to be a swipe at Democratic presidential frontrunner Barack Obama, who has advocated meeting leaders of traditional U.S. foes such as Iran and Cuba without preconditions.

It also followed a visit to the Middle East by former President Jimmy Carter in which he met Hamas leaders, who are shunned by Israel and Washingtion, and urged efforts to draw the militant group into the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

[...]Bush, who has refused any contact with Ahmadinejad, said the Iranian president "dreams of returning the Middle East to the Middle Ages and calls for Israel to be wiped off the map", and lumped him together in an anti-Israel camp with Hamas, Hezbollah and Osama bin Laden.

"Some seem to believe that we should negotiate with terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along. We have heard this foolish delusion before," Bush said.

I'm not sure I've heard Obama say that, necessarily, or anyone on the left. I know I don't think that's a good idea, either.


What IS a good idea is what President Bill Clinton -- you remember the guy, brightest President to sit in the White House since Jefferson, greatest President of all time, husband of candidate Hillary Clinton and someone Barack Obama has gone out of his way to paint with strokes of hatred and jealousy? -- did during his tenure: reach out to Iranians moderates and try to establish a dialogue regarding what THEY want.

It's true, Ahmadinejad would probably leap at the chance to have face time with a President Obama, but it's not very likely that would amount to anything, unless it was preceded by many rounds of talks among lower level operatives and with opposition leaders in Iran, such as they are.

Remember, despite Ahmadinejad's posturing, Iran is a fairly moderate country with an educated population, a decent economy, and more important, some freedoms that other Muslim nations do not have.

To suggest that even the rookie Senator from Illinois would be foolhardy enough to justify Ahmadinejad's posturing in the face of that populace belies a deep disregard for the intellectual curiousity of both Iranians and Americans: we'd see through that in a heartbeat. Look what happened when Ahmadinejad spoke at Columbia.

The comparisons to Nazi Germany are a bit outre as well. Germany was controlled by Hitler. Ahmadinejad can't take a dump without the religious council ratifying it. And there's where the talking with Iran might bear some fruit. Mohammad Khatami and Akbar Rafsanjani, pragmatic reformers who have some sway with the council would be valuable players here.

Bush, thankfully, has rendered himself irrelevant prematurely. My suspicion is, someone in his administration watched
The West Wing and tried to arrange a graceful exit for him like Jeb Bartlett's, and creating relevancy for the lamest of ducks in recent memory.

(Cross-posted to
Simply Left Behind.)

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Death to the people, power to the junta

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Cyclone Nargis devastated Burma, but, for the totalitarians, the brutalization continues, with the military blocking foreign aid and relief workers from entering the country and reaching the areas hit by the storm, stealing food, and otherwise doing little (and nothing) to help the estimated 2.5 million people affected by the storm (with another one on the way).

Oh, and did you know that, with all this going on, they held a referendum on Saturday?

No joke.

Here's the Breaking News:

A new constitution proposed by Burma's military government has been overwhelmingly approved in a referendum, state media say.

Some 92.4% voted yes to the changes in a vote on Saturday.

The referendum was held in two-thirds of the country, but was postponed for two weeks in areas hit by the cyclone.

The constitution enshrines the junta's hold on power and excludes the main opposition leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, from office.

Yes, that's right, the totalitarians forced through a new constitution that effectively cements their hold on power -- and they did so through a sham of a referendum that was held as the country was dealing with the aftermath of a horrible natural disaster that may have killed as many as 128,000 people (Red Cross estimate) and that wasn't held in one-third of the country.

And it's a constitution that was drafted by the totalitarians themselves (and that has been sharply criticized around the world).

No wonder it received 92.4% of the vote. I'm sure the referendum was as "democratic" as any of the votes in the "democratic" Soviet Bloc satellites of Eastern Europe during the Cold War.

Vote Yes... or else.

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Who would bin Laden vote for?

By Capt. Fogg

It's been called Godwin's Law, the idea that the longer a political dialog continues, the more likely Hitler will be brought up. Of course, it's not a law; the longer any conversation continues, the more likely that anything will come up, but reductio ad Hitlerium as other wags have dubbed it, does seem to occur all too often when the subject is a government we dislike, a political figure we hate or when a policy we are trying to justify needs a good old fashioned bogeyman to override considerations of accuracy, truthfulness or sometimes even sanity.

The notion that trying to deal with any bogeyman without the use of bombs and tanks and sanctions is "appeasement," has been a standard gambit since British prime minister Neville Chamberlain and the Munich Agreement of 1938, but rarely if ever has it been an apt analogy but rather a clumsy attempt to denounce diplomacy as a political tool. Is it any kind of surprise that it was used by the neocons against continuing to inspect and assess Iraq's nuclear potential? If that were true, airport security checks would be "appeasing terrorists" which makes no sense.

Did Nikita Khruschev really back Kennedy over Nixon because Kennedy was "soft on Communism?" Did Ho Chi Min really want Hubert Humphrey to win? Are we really not sick and disgusted of all this idiocy by now?

Hardly surprising that the strutting little Commander Guy has little other defense to the suggestion that talks with "evildoers" may sometimes be productive. No, talking to Adolph Hitler in 1938 wasn't a way to keep him from invading Poland the following year, but then not talking to Fidel Castro hasn't done a damned thing while we continue to appease the Saudi Royal Family and their medieval monarchy.

Let's be honest. Dealing sensibly with the Germans in 1918 might have made a difference and dealing with Palestinians differently in 1948 might have made a difference, but when it comes to deciding when it's time to stop trying and to start bombing isn't something the "Decider" seems to be good at deciding, is it?

Analogies can be helpful, but only in so far as they are honest and accurate. Neither of those terms applies to much we hear from the "Warpresident" and his latest jive from Jerusalem insisting that Barack Obama and other Democrats would endanger Israel and perhaps the world by actually engaging Ahmadenejad and other bogeymen in a conversation. "rewarding bad behavior" is the typical administration phrasing, as though trigger happy America is the world's school teacher, but either way, it's an opinion much related to past failures and with little success to its credit.

It's the sort of thing he hopes Israel will buy into, since he would love to have them pressure American Jews into supporting Republicans. In my opinion, that's bad behavior; the kind dishonesty and cowardice usually produces and I would hate to see the losers, crooks, cowards and failures we flatter by calling Neocons, rewarded for it.

(Cross-posted from Human Voices.)

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Too bad for those threatened polar bears

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Remember when I wrote that post on how "polar bears are facing unprecedented environmental stress that will cause their numbers to plummet" (if I may again quote WaPo)?

No? Well, I can't say I blame you. It was way back on July 7, 2005.

The point of that post was simple: Polar bears are a victim of global warming. The World Conservation Union had concluded that they were a "vulnerable" species and that their numbers would decline sharply as a direct result of "climatic warming and its consequent negative affects on [their] sea ice habitat."

Meanwhile, the Bush Administration was doing nothing -- or, rather, worse than nothing. It was actively blocking international efforts to address global warming in meaningful ways. As I put it on May 14, 2007, Bush had turned the United States into "the malevolent hegemon," while he himself had become "an enabler of future genocide."

Well, here we are, in the early morning hours of May 15, 2008, and the situation -- for polar bears in particular and for the planet in general -- has only gotten worse. Here's the BBC:

The United States has listed the polar bear as a threatened species, because its Arctic sea ice habitat is melting due to climate change.

US government scientists predict that two-thirds of the polar bear population of 25,000 could disappear by 2050.

However, the government stressed the listing would not lead to measures to prevent global warming.

Of course it won't. Not with Bush, the oil industry, and the global warming deniers running the show. Indeed, Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne only gave in because the law required him to do so: "While the legal standards under the Endangered Species Act compel me to list the polar bear as threatened, I want to make clear that this listing will not stop global climate change or prevent any sea ice from melting."

Which is true. The listing itself won't stop global warming. But it means something, right? What is happening to polar bears and their habitat is evidence, is it not? The listing could stimulate action, could it not? Secretary? "This has been a difficult decision. But in light of the scientific record and the restraints of the inflexible law that guides me, I believe it was the only decision I could make." (via WaPo, which has the story on its front page today)

(Cue sarcasm.) How's that for decisive leadership? It's not me, it's the law! And them meddling scientists!

Now, at least Kempthorne acknowledged the reality of "global climate change." And at least he did something. And it's not like he doesn't know what's happening: "The fact is that sea ice is receding in the Arctic. As you can see, when we have looked at what is actually happening in the Arctic, we have found considerably less sea ice than the models are projecting. Because polar bears are vulnerable to this loss of habitat, they are, in my judgment, likely to become endangered in the foreseeable future -- in this case, 45 years."

But why is this happening? What are the causes of the receding sea ice? As Dale Hall, director of the Fish and Wildlife Service, put it, "[w]e have to be able to connect the dots." The problem is, Kempthorne, like the administration of which he is a part, isn't connecting them. Like the deniers and do-nothingers and enablers of genocide running the malevolent hegemon, he is primarily concerned with, as he put it, preventing "harm to the society and the economy of the United States" -- as if somehow the U.S. could withstand the environmental apocalypse to come, as if somehow the U.S. can be shielded from what is happening to the planet as a whole.

Global warming, I admit, is a complex phenomenon, but there is pretty simple cause-and-effect here. Temperature are rising and sea ice is melting. It is a positive step to acknowledge, at long last and however reluctantly, what is actually happening to polar bears, but the listing won't mean anything if nothing is done to avert the crisis that is confronting us all.

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Edwards endorses Obama

By Michael J.W. Stickings

I'll have more on this later.

(Short view: It's a significant endorsement, of course, and the timing is excellent for Obama -- the CW was that the window for Edwards to have any meaningful influence on the race was closed, but, instead, his endorsement is a major boost for Obama at just the right time. Having been beaten soundly in West Virginia, facing a loss in Kentucky, having problems connecting with working-class voters, and trying to move into general-election mode as the presumptive nominee even as Hillary continues to fight it out, Obama needed such a boost, even though he's ahead of Hillary according to every meaningful metric. And, as a former Edwards supporter who has come to admire Obama so much over the past several months, I'm thrilled. It's fantastic to see them standing side-by-side and to have Edwards make such a strong case for Obama.)

Here's the full clip of Edwards's remarks:

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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Gimme that spatula!

By Michael J.W. Stickings

To quote Frank Costanza: "I'm back, baby!" (Let's hope this goes better than when he started cooking again.)

I apologize for my absence these past five or six days, whatever it's been since my last post. I've been dealing with some personal health issues -- which is to say, I've been unwell, and in a serious enough way to keep me from blogging -- and I've spent as much time as possible resting and trying to get better. I'm still recuperating, but, well, it's time to spend a bit of time at the computer.

I want to thank my fantastic co-bloggers for stepping in, and up, and, as they say, holding down the fort during my absence. Seriously, they're amazing.

I have a lot to say about West Virginia and Edwards/NARAL and the Obama-Clinton race generally, as well as about the relief efforts in Burma, "astronomy" at the Vatican, and endangered polar bears, and about so much else (as usual), but I'll get to the posting later.

Stay tuned.


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